Lucky Me

I am feeling very lucky this week. I just returned from a rare event for me: a vacation.

It has been a family tradition to spend the 4th of July holiday week at a beach near St. Petersburg, Fla. Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to go the last two years and I was more than ready for the trip this year. If you’ve ever been to a Florida beach in the summer, you know to plan indoor activities because of rain or a bad case of sunburn. Summer afternoon showers and storms are a regular occurrence in the area and my skin color is somewhere between pale and paler, so there was a very good chance that either event would happen.

Michael Glancy (American, born 1950)
Stiletto Fusion (2007)
Blown glass with stiletto air-trap inclusions and engraved lenses, industrial plate glass, copper and silver
Museum Purchase with funds provided by the Collectors Circle
Artwork ©Michael Glancy

In searching for indoor activities, I was thrilled to find the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), St. Petersburg currently has a studio art glass exhibition, Global + Local, Studio and Contemporary Glass on Florida‘s West Coast. It sounded like an ideal way to spend an afternoon. One problem: It never rained and thanks to a sunscreen level that matched my age (not 30, think higher) I didn‘t look like a lobster. On the last day of my vacation, I was actually peeved that it wasn’t raining or that I wasn’t in need of serious medical care. I knew I couldn’t leave without seeing the exhibit!

With more than 100 works, this exhibition is one of the most diverse art glass exhibitions ever presented at the Museum. The works are international in scope and are bursting with color and daring. This is art glass at its most magical.

All of the works, except for two, are from Pinellas County (Florida) collections, including the

Jay Musler (American, born 1949)
Cityscape (detail), about 1987
Blown and painted glass
Collection of The Stoffels Family
Artwork ©Jay Musler

Museum’s own. Global + Local conveys St. Petersburg’s emergence as a center for art glass and includes objects by talented area artists Duncan McClellan, Owen Pach, Chuck Boux, and Susan Gott. Marlene Rose’s Eternity Relic (2012), a timeless totem, is 10½ feet tall and is in front of the Museum on Beach Drive, serving as a beacon for the exhibition. This is the first time a glass sculpture has been placed on the MFA grounds.

Eighty-six artists are represented, including choice works by studio glass pioneers such as Harvey Littleton and Dale Chihuly. A wide array of other objects are by such internationally

William Morris (American, born 1957)
Artifact: Tooth (1995)
Blown glass
Collection of William R. and Hazel Hough
Artwork ©William Morris

respected artists as Philip Baldwin and Monica Guggisberg, Sonja Blomdahl, Dante Marioni, William Morris, Yoichi Ohira, Stephen Rolfe Powell, Richard Ritter, Judith Schaechter, Preston Singletary, Lino Tagliapietra, Bertil Vallien, and Toots Zynsky. Recent Museum acquisitions of important works by Therman Statom and Michael Glancy are also on view.

Global + Local is part of a nationwide celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Studio Glass Movement. The Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass has encouraged events and exhibitions, now numbering more than 160, across the country. Thanks to the generous participation of local collectors, Global + Local has transformed the Hazel Hough Wing.

The Global + Local exhibition was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to see glass work of this caliber up close and in person. Lucky me, it did not rain on my vacation and I did not suffer a severe sunburn. Even luckier, I did not leave St. Petersburg without visiting the MFA.

Global + Local: Studio and Contemporary Glass on Florida’s West Coast

Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg

Through October 14

MFA Exhibitions Sponsored in part by The Stuart Society

All images by Thomas U. Gessler.